☆ Chapter 53
Returning to Furong Garden, Yun Shi Yi helped remove his wife’s coat and carried her to the bed to rest. After a moment, he saw Nuan Chun place the brazier he had just fanned to roaring levels under the bed and spoke to stop him: “It is better to move it away a little further as one is likely to suffer from excessive internal heat at such a close distance. In any case, there is a fire dragon underground[a] and the room will not be too cold.”
Nuan Chun responded in agreement and moved the brazier a little distance away: “Eldest Master, Nuan Qing has already had people prepare bath water in the washroom. Would you like to head there now?”
“Understood; you may withdraw. If you see Shi Wei coming over, stop him. Do not let him come over and bother me.” He had just barely been reunited with his wife; how could he let his little brother come inside and ruin the mood?
“Yes, Eldest Master. This servant asks to be excused.” Nuan Chun performed the rites towards the two people and departed.
Yun Shi Yi lifted his wife into the adjacent washroom. Entering the bathtub, they washed for a while before he moved her back into the bedroom.
The two of them laid down on the bed and Yun Shi Yi thoughtfully looked at his wife: “Still thinking about the unpleasantry from earlier?”
He hadn’t expected the concubine-born daughter of the Ruan clan to be this domineering. Even if those concubine-born children in Lan Zhou’s Yun family manor were estranged from him and they occasionally got into angry disputes, they would still not have the courage to make such an unreasonable scene in front of everyone. His own mother was not to be trifled with and had never been captured by a concubine-daughter like his maternal aunt. It was obvious how important it was for the Mother of the household to manage things with impartiality.
“I was thinking, why did Papa accept this kind of secondary husband like concubine-Father Wei for Mother? With his ability, he could have surely given Ma an obedient one.” Such as other secondary husbands that had little desire to ingratiate themselves, knew how to judge the situation and knew what was best to do that was most advantageous for themselves. In the end, was this Wei Rong intelligent or stupid? What benefit did he have to gain from provoking the Head of the family?
“You don’t even understand the matters of your own Ruan family?” Yun Shi Yi tapped the tip of her nose: “That time when concubine-Father Wei entered the Ruan family, it truly used a bit of thinking. Based on his circumstances, he simply was not qualified at all to enter the Ruan family as a secondary concubine. His birth status is so low, it basically didn’t mean anything and he also had an arrogant air that is similar to Maternal Uncle. But how could one with the lowest of statuses be able to hold onto that temperament? That concubine-Father Wei is also a Mister from a brothel and made others resent him. It’s been said that he had a relationship with the Madam of the prefectural magistrate……”
“A Mister from a brothel?”
Ruan Zhu thought of Lu Piao Xiang, but the latter was born from a wealthy family in the capital and his parents were both people with a good head for business. He had been set up by his older brother into entering a brothel, had always remained clean-living and honest[b], and had always looked for an opportunity to escape. With Wei Rong, they were like heaven and earth, absolutely incomparable.
But how did Wei Rong capture Madam Ruan’s heart? It was obvious it wasn’t just his appearance that was good for his methods were also not ordinary.
“That’s right, or else how could he have become a secondary husband of the Ruan household? Wasn’t it because he had trusted the method of the Madam of the prefectural magistrate? He originally wanted to enter her household, but the magistrate had accepted a line of brothers for his wife. Then in accordance with his wife’s intention, he used the imperial court’s law as an excuse to force Wei Rong into the Ruan family. On the same day they entered the family, the new concubine must be examined by the principal husband or another senior member to check whether they are untouched, but Wei Rong did not have his gecko cinnabar mark at all.”
Again with the law of the imperial court! So that was the reason why Ruan Zi Xu was forced to accept Wei Rong as his wife’s secondary husband even if he was unwilling: “If Papa was an official, then he wouldn’t have to accept others’ blackmail. I heard that the Emperor had sent a decree bestowing an official position to Papa but he declined. What a pity.”
Yun Shi Yi looked at his wife in amusement.
Ruan Zhu became angry: “What kind of expression is that?”
“You are truly naive. Regardless of how much power an official has, they will still be subject to different degrees of blackmail. The several secondary husbands of the wife of Prime Minister Li were all bestowed by the Emperor and the same can also be said of the other ministers. Not only could these men be used to monitor them, this was also the so-called ‘grace.’ Even the Emperor can not be so casual. In order to consolidate their own power, all the cabinet ministers always wish to send their sons to the Empress or the Princesses. Do you know why Tian Chu has a decree that the Empress must only accept brothers of her principal husband as concubines? It’s precisely to guard against the ministers randomly sending their sons. But even like this, the imperial family is unable to block everything. These sons may not become secondary husbands ,but they could become attendants or bedwarmers, right?”
Even if one was the ruler of a country, they still had to share their wife’s love with other men. In Tian Chu’s history, there was one emperor that wanted to jointly live out his life with only his Empress. Very quickly, his ministers all refused to follow the system and stopped accepting secondary husbands in quick succession, and some commoners also followed suit. Less than ten years later, the population suddenly fell sharply and the country saw many deaths with few births and even fewer children on the streets. Under these circumstances, the Emperor had no choice but to reinstate the previous system, accepting secondary husbands for his Empress and issuing a decree that court ministers and civilians had to have five husbands per wife, ten husbands per wife, the more husbands the better.
“The Emperor is that useless? To give the minsters free reign to send their sons into the imperial harem as they please?”
“No, the Emperor is very smart. The Emperor attaches the most importance to the Empress’s phoenix body and all of the men in the imperial palace, excluding the five husbands, are castrated.”
Ruan Zhu was silent for a long while and finally nodded her head. The long-standing palace eunuch culture could not be destroyed just because of the polyandry system. In any case, Dongfang Bu Bai was extremely cute, yes![c]
Ruan Zhu yawned and nestled inside her husband’s embrace and not a moment later, fell asleep. The lord of dreams unexpectedly let her meet Dongfang Bu Bai tonight. Both of them were in the bridal chamber and when she pulled down his pants, there actually was a **.
She could even dream of anything. This was too weird!
If Yun Shi Yi knew his wife had dreamt of another man while laying next to himself, he would have been incomparably dismayed. No matter how one said it, this was the first time he had comfortably slept over these past six months and his mind was extremely refreshed the next day.
Ruan Zhu felt his □ that was solidly pressing against her and thought about how he had lived an ascetic monk lifestyle for such a long time. Feeling distressed, she used both hands to slowly feel him.
He cupped her full breasts and his eyes slightly closed as he lost himself in the sensation he hadn’t felt in a long time.
Suddenly, he kneeled in front of her, removing his little brother from her hands. He placed it in front of her chest and used his hands to squeeze her two plump and soft hills towards the middle, burying his member inside.
He slowly twitched as that place gave him another sort of thrill.
“Wife, it feels so good here.”
He panted; his forehead covered with tiny beads of sweat. This mysterious feeling was hard to bear and the speed of his thrusts became faster and faster. His arousal surged, and like a hot knife through butter, he completely sprayed out his hot liquid that had accumulated for half a year.
He wiped himself clean and continued to kneel in front of her, caressing her two supple mounds, focusing on examining them. The areas that he had rubbed had become somewhat red. He buried his head between them and showered them with kisses: “Luckily there is no bruising, otherwise I would have lost out enormously.”
She lowered her head to look at his actions; her two slightly red cheeks glowing with blessed happiness.
When they got out of bed, she thought of Lu Piao Xiang. Ever since Yun Shi Yi had returned, she hadn’t had the chance to even speak a single word to him. Recalling his attentive care during this period of time, she felt a bit apologetic.
“Husband Lord, there is a matter I need to speak to you about……” Her words were vague and her eyes were a little sad as she looked at him.
Yun Shi Yi thought a moment: “It’s regarding Lu Piao Xiang, correct? No need to explain, I understand.” But understanding was one thing and accepting another husband always made him uncomfortable. Although this day would have come sooner or later, in the end, him bringing in concubines was different from her bringing them in herself.
“Lord Husband, I have let you down.” Seeing him so disagreeable, she became distressed and hugged his waist: “Don’t ignore me, I’ve always remembered that you are the most important.”
A warm feeling slid over his heart and he faintly smiled: “Silly girl, still not getting up? It’s already this time yet you’re lazing around in bed. Let me inform you of the order your father gave me–I have to take you for a stroll in the garden every day; he said it’s for an easier childbirth. You don’t wish for me to be reprimanded by him, right?”
Ruan Zhu’s tears turned into laughter.
After eating the morning meal, Yun Shi Yi supported her to the flower garden where the plum blossoms were blooming even more luxurious and splendid than yesterday. The light white color with faint pink tones and an amorous red–looking at them, one’s heart becomes full of joy.
But when they had yet to approach the stands of plum blossom trees, the sounds of a delicate voice cursing someone carried over, immediately followed by the sounds of a whip hitting a person–pa pa.
“Are you a corpse, ah? I told you to bring me plum blossom branches, what damned place did you go to for so long?”
It wasn’t hard to tell that the girl who was shouting and hitting was Ruan Ju. She had just caused a situation yesterday that made her self-conscious, so what in tarnation was she doing today?
Ruan Zhu could be considered to be thoroughly impressed by this third sister.
There was no need to care about this. She could express her love however she wanted to express it; there was no reason to invite bad luck.
In any case, it had nothing to do with her. Ruan Ju did not dare to be too outrageous for the most part. She may not highly value her servants’ lives, but if she were to beat them to death, Ruan Zi Xu would not tolerate having such a vicious daughter, let alone one that was not his.
Yun Shi Yi assisted Ruan Zhu as they intended to leave, but she accidentally glanced towards the plum blossom trees as she turned around and couldn’t help but to stand still in shock.
A man with a tall figure and wearing inky black clothes stood beside a plum blossom tree. His eyes were cold and cheerless and his lips were pressed tightly closed. Towards Ruan Ju’s continuous strikes against his back, not even a wrinkle in his eyebrows could be found.
That man was Xuanyuan Min Zhi. He was still bound by iron chains on his hands and feet like an unattainable cruel and untamed boss in a prison. And despite meeting with misfortune, he still possessed a threatening and cold air.
Wasn’t he at Aunt Sun’s house? How did he come to Ruan residence and was even being abused by Ruan Ju?
Yun Shi Yi had also seen them and was extremely astonished. He naturally recognized Xuanyuan Min Zhi; he had visited the country of Nan Ling several times so how could he not know the other? During the time when the majestic prince of Nan Ling had caused trouble in Mao Er Town, he had also been there as a witness.
When did Xuanyuan Min Zhi become Ruan Ju’s servant? Was he appointed to her? He was a prince and someone given up for adoption to the Duke of Nan Ling. Although Yun Shi Yi did not know how the other had fallen to such dire straits, he was still not someone the Ruan clan could provoke.
“We should leave!”
Yun Shi Yi supported Ruan Zhu as they faced the way they had come. If they went over right now and stopped her, offending Ruan Ju in the process, it would be another clash between the two of them. Wouldn’t it be better to return and think of a plan?
Behind them, the whipping still continued, accompanied with Ruan Ju’s shouted curses. The scene was particularly staggering.
Ruan Zhu became angry. It must have been Aunt Sun who opened her eyes wide at the sight of profit[d] and sold Xuanyuan Min Zhi. Was there a need for more words? What right did Aunt Sun have? Though she had given him away, it did not mean the other had the right to sell him.
Yun Shi Yi helped his wife through the moon gate and back into Furong Garden as they followed the small path.
Sitting in the warm-as-spring room, the two people were speechless. A very long time later, Ruan Zhu finally spoke.
“Lord Husband. Say, Xuanyuan Min Zhi being tormented by Ruan Ju like that, wouldn’t it bring calamity to the Ruan clan?”
“I need to find Uncle and discuss this with him. This matter is very troublesome. If it is not solved properly, we may be accused of looking down on the imperial family.” The atmosphere around Yun Shi Yi was very heavy.
Ruan Zhu was rather regretful. She had thought just sending out that hot potato would be the end but who would have thought that Ruan Ju would buy him? She also blamed herself for being so childish. If she had endured it at that time and given Xuanyuan Min Zhi a bit of assistance within her abilities, this current situation would not exist.
“I will go look for Uncle to discuss this. Wife, if you’re tired then just sleep for a bit. If you feel agitated, let……let Lu Piao Xiang come over and accompany you.”
“No……no need, I am fine on my own. You should quickly go!”
Ruan Zhu was grateful of her husband’s consideration. Looking at his figure walking away, her nose became a bit sour.
One person alone in a room was very boring. But not long after, she heard the sound of the door opening. She thought it was Lu Piao Xiang, but didn’t expect to see Yun Shi Wei, who brought a gust of cold air with him when he entered. His eyes brightened upon seeing Ruan Zhu and he chuckled as he threw himself over.
“Spouse, Eldest Brother had Nuan Chun go find Lu Piao Xiang to come over and accompany you. Fortunately, Nuan Chun was intercepted by me halfway. What is good about that kid, Lu Piao Xiang? Other than being able to play the guqin to help others sleep, there is no other good thing about him. You should let me accompany you instead, okay!”
“Accompanying me is fine.” Ruan Zhu could see that his wolf paws wanted to carelessly grope her and pushed him away, sharply saying: “Don’t move your hands and feet. Warm yourself up first and then we’ll see. Don’t you know you’re cold and icy all over? If you hurt my child, I’ll take your life.”
Yun Shi Wei rapidly crouched next to the brazier to warm himself up and cheerfully said: “Spouse, after you’ve given birth to Eldest Brother’s child, give birth to mine next. You must remember to make them all take contraceptives.”
Ruan Zhu snorted: “Keep dreaming, I still want to live a relaxed life for a few years. Later, you also have to eat contraceptives.”
Yun Shi Wei pouted: “Spouse, you can’t be biased.”
“I just am biased, what of it?” Ruan Zhu walked to the window and looked outside. Her mind was a little confused. She thought of her husband and then her head was filled with Xuanyuan Min Zhi. This living ancestor really made one have a headache.
“Spouse, are you in a bad mood?” Yun Shi Wei at least was not entirely stupid and could see Ruan Zhu was absent-minded: “How about I take you out for a stroll? Uncle said walking often would be good for when you give birth.”
Okay then, no more thinking.
“Don’t go to the garden. Let’s go to the back door of the Ruan residence for a look. I remember there is a wonton stall on the street outside the door that is very lively.” She recalled how she had come across Ruan Ju earlier and thought it was better to not go to the garden.
Yun Shi Wei supported Ruan Zhu to the back door of the Ruan residence. Just as they were about to leave, a black shadow suddenly flew out from the inside the residence and almost collided with Ruan Zhu. Angry, Yun Shi Wei raised a leg and kicked him to the ground.
“Don’t kick!” Ruan Zhu wanted to stop him but was too late.
That man was crumpled on the ground and spit out a large mouthful of blood. It was Xuanyuan Min Zhi. After he had finished coughing up blood, he wiped his lips and struggled twice to crawl back up, glaring at them with a pair of icy eyes.
Ruan Zhu immediately understood. This prince could no longer bear Ruan Ju’s tyrannical whip and had intended to escape.
From behind came Ruan Ju’s shouted curses and Ruan Zhu saw that she had even brought along a few of the family’s servants.
“I let you run away, you dog slave! Children, go forward and beat him up for me! Beat this useless Blockhead to death! I gave him face but he doesn’t want it. Is being my bedwarmer so hard where touching you a few times is worthy of death?!”
These servants had received instruction and like a hornet’s nest, moved toward Xuanyuan Min Zhi, pushing him to the ground, relentless in their punches and kicks.
“Stop hitting him. All of you stay your hands under my orders.” Ruan Zhu stepped forward to put a stop to their actions.
“Eldest Sister, you have gone too far! I’m hitting a slave but you also have to control this? Are you so idle that you are panicking?” Ruan Ju saw that her own matters had been disturbed and her face twisted with anger. She commanded those few servants: “All of you, don’t listen to her. Go ahead and beat this useless Blockhead to the gates of hell!”
All the servants glanced at each other and none of them moved. They all ate the Ruan clan’s food and there was no need for them to offend their principal master for a rude and unreasonable silly girl.
Ruan Zhu no longer paid attention to this so-called ‘younger sister’ and said towards Yun Shi Wei: “Hurry and lift him up. Take him back and invite a physician to carefully look him over.”
Yun Shi Wei was stunned: “I do not like repulsive men.”[e]
Ruan Zhu sent him a quick glare: “I told you to help him, so help him. You speak too much rubbish.”
Yun Shi Wei unwillingly went over and helped Xuanyuan Min Zhi up. The latter had been kicked by the former earlier and had just been beaten by the servants so his injuries were not light.
“Stop right there! Blockhead was bought by the money I spent and none of you are allowed to move him. Put him down right this instant!” Ruan Ju had run up to them and barred Ruan Zhu’s way: “Don’t think that just because Father likes you, you can do whatever you please. Mother still likes me!”
Ruan Zhu knew speaking to her was only wasting brain cells and she felt annoyed to death. Seeing that the other had firmly grasped onto her arm, she started flinging her arm in the other direction. But Ruan Ju did not let go and the two of them pulled against each other in different directions. By chance, there was a small piece of ice underneath Ruan Zhu’s foot and she abruptly slipped, tumbling onto the ground.
“Ah!” Ruan Zhu instinctively protected her stomach and fell onto the ground sideways. Whether the child in her belly had been injured was unclear, but this fall had nearly taken her life. It seemed as if all of her bones were going to break and a piercing pain suddenly came from her belly.
“Spouse!” Yun Shi Wei cried out in fear and threw aside Xuanyuan Min Zhi to run over and hold Ruan Zhu. However, he saw that her complexion was deathly pale and her entire body was trembling. He immediately lost his head in panic and impatiently asked: “Where does it hurt; are you in pain?”
The lower half of Ruan Zhu’s body became wet and she knew that her water had broke. The child was being born.
“Quickly, carry me back……I can’t……ah!……it hurts……”
[a] I had such a hard time with this ‘fire dragon’ but I think it’s just the the author’s way of describing how an ancient person might call geothermal energy (aka Earth’s interior heat).
[b] 洁身自好, idiom meaning to avoid immorality; to keep one’s hands clean
[c] 东方不败 Dongfang Bu Bai is a fictional character in The Smiling, Proud Warrior–a wuxia novel by Jin Yong–who castrates himself in order to learn the skills of a martial arts manual. It has been completely translated into English and the NovelUpdates link is here.
[d] 见钱眼开, idiom meaning thinking of nothing but personal gain; money-grubbing
[e] Irony (?); 臭 chou means smelly but can also mean repulsive; bad; etc. Might have been the author’s way of poking fun at YSW for being a hypocrite by saying he hated smelly men but I could also be overthinking this.